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Latest Update from USA - 4/19/23

Dear Loved Ones,


Sadly, today is already the 419th day of the terrible invasion and war in Ukraine. As the number of days grows higher, and as this war continues day after day, month after month, at times it seems that even we become more desensitized to the news coming from the front. What a terrible thing to admit, I know... but sadly at times this is the case. Day after day we hear about this rocket attack and that drone strike on a city in the east, and our hearts break for those involved. But in the same breath, we thank God that things have calmed down and attacks have lessened around us. We praise God that we, our friends and our church people are safe. We thank the Lord for His protection and for His mercies.


You know, the longer this war goes on around us, we are experiencing dynamics that we never dreamed of experiencing. Just today as I drove our handicapped landlord through town on some errands, we passed house after house, businesses and apartment buildings that are still severely damaged or destroyed by this war... and I realize that I don't even give them a second look. But sadly, each of these houses, apartments and businesses represents lives and families that have been torn apart, broken and turned upside down. And many, because this war continues, cannot or are not willing to start the rebuild for fear of the unknown and future attacks. Please pray that the Lord would keep our hearts soft to the hurts and suffering of those around us. That we wouldn't become calloused to the horrible things being perpetrated on innocent people here in Ukraine. And that our eyes and hearts would continue to be open to how we can help those who cannot help themselves.


We also want to share two short reports on how God is working through your generosity and prayers, and touching the lives of those in need.


About a week ago, three of our guys were finally able to make a quick trip to the front line cities in Eastern Ukraine. They took with them over one hundred food packs (over a ton of non-perishable food items.) One hundred sweatsuit outfits for injured soldiers, different medical supplies, as well as hygiene products i.e. razors, shaving cream, toilet paper, laundry soap, etc, for the military hospital. The guys said to pass on their deepest thanks for your prayers. The roads were good all the way there and back and they had no problems passing through any checkpoints. They also reported that the local people told them that it was a good thing our trip was delayed. The previous two weeks before our guys reached them, they experienced the heaviest shellings (daily) since the beginning of the war. But miraculously, the day and a half our guys were in these towns, there was not one attack. Praise the Lord!


A couple of days after our guys delivered the aid, the church we are working with in one of the towns, took the food packs out to some of the hardest hit neighborhoods. They were able to hold mini evangelistic outreaches as well as distribute all the packs. The videos sent back to us were filled with gratefulness for the food and aid, but even more so for not forgetting about them. While these food packs will last only a week or so, the fact that people, as far away as America, remember them and are helping them, will stay with these people for a lifetime. Believe us when we say, Ukrainians will never forget the kindness and generosity of Americans during their darkest hour.


And just this last Sunday, we celebrated Easter here in Ukraine. We enjoyed, with our church family, a beautiful Resurrection service celebrating Christ's victory over death, sin and the grave. And it was so good to see our church full up to the rafters! We haven't seen these numbers since before the pandemic. Most every seat was filled with church members, neighbors, relatives and refugees. Praise the Lord, the Gospel message was clearly given and many seeds were planted.


About a week before, the Lord gave Loriann and I the idea to look for a way to bless each one at the Easter service in a small way. He showed us where we could place an order for a large quantity of special easter sweet breads (very popular here in Ukraine). And then led us to a wholesale warehouse where we were able to buy enough easter cookies for all the kids. Some of the breads were still warm when I picked them up Saturday evening and Sunday morning our car smelled so yummy... like a bakery delivery truck. Saturday evening we tied small easter cards to each of the breads with congratulations from all our friends and churches in America. We wanted this blessing to not just be from Loriann and I, but from all of you as well... because it really is! Without all of you, your support, backing and prayers, so much of what we are able to do in Ukraine would not be possible!


It was so fun, on Sunday after the morning service, with the help of some of our youth, to pass out almost 400 easter breads to all the adults and just under 100 cookies to all the kids. You should have seen some of the kids' eyes light up, especially the little ones, when they were given the choice of which cookie they wanted. That was thanks enough!


And not a few adults came up to us after and thanked us, first for the bread, but most of all for the show of support and care from their friends in America. You might think that a little sweet bread wouldn't be much, but to these dear people, when it was given with love and given to ALL, it meant the world to them.


So we are just passing on what so many have told us over these past couple of weeks -- "Thank you dear American friends for your love, prayers, care and support!!! Thank you for not forgetting about us. Thank you for standing with us and with Ukraine!"


And we only echo the words of the Ukrainian people -- Thank you for your faithful prayers, for your open hearts and for your great love for this ministry. We are humbled and honored to be channels through which your generosity is poured out on the neediest around us here in Ukraine.


"Hereby perceive we the love of God, because he laid down his life for us: and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren. 

But whoso hath this world's good, and seeth his brother have need, and shutteth up his bowels of compassion from him, how dwelleth the love of God in him? 

My little children, let us not love in word, neither in tongue; but in deed and in truth."

1 John 3:16-18


Now dear friends, we pray our God blesses you more than you can ask or think!

With much love,

Your missionaries, 

Joel & Loriann Matchak

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